As debate rages on using precious water in IPL matches while Maharashtra faces severe drought, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Tuesday informed the Bombay High Court of its decision to source treated sewage water from Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) to maintain pitches for 17 of the 20 IPL matches. The water will be sourced from RWITC’s Mumbai and Pune locations — for nine IPL matches to be played in Pune and eight in Mumbai. (Fixtures | Squads)
With the state facing the worst drought in three decades, the court asked the board again Tuesday if they were willing to shift the matches out of Pune. During the course of the arguments, when BCCI informed the court that earlier 40 lakh litres of non potable tanker water were used daily during IPL tournaments, the bench of Justices VM Kanade and MS Karnik, asked if they would supply the same quantity to drought affected villages in Marathwada.
“Will you supply the water which was earlier going to be utilised through tankers to villages which are facing scarcity of water?” enquired the court. Senior counsel Rafique Dada, appearing for the BCCI, said it would look into the request if the chief minister’s office could supply them with names of affected villages.
PIL against IPL
The division bench was hearing a PIL filed by NGO Loksatta Movement in which they claimed as much as 60 lakh litres of water goes towards maintenance of IPL pitches.
The court has given the board a day to respond, with the high court further asking if, and how much, they were willing to contribute towards the chief minister’s drought relief fund. The HC has also asked RWITC to give an undertaking stating it will supply water for maintenance of pitches. Senior counsel Dada said this decision should be accepted and encouraged as the treated sewage water was being put to better use.
The board also informed the court that Kings XI Punjab was willing to shift three IPL matches which was supposed to be played in Nagpur, to Mohali. The HC has now asked Kings XI Punjab to be made a party so the same could be confirmed with them. The matter will be heard on Wednesday.
The bench said that as in the case of the Nagpur matches, it expected something similar from the BCCI regarding the other matches in the state given the present circumstances.
Pointing to the earlier reply of the state government which stated it had no objection to shifting IPL out of the state despite huge loss of revenue to them, Justice VM Kanade observed, “They are concerned with the loss of revenue and not people. It doesn’t matter that people suffer.”
The court also questioned the intention of the petitioners who approached the court after the T20 World Cup got over. “Why did you not approach the court earlier?” questioned the court. The advocate for the petitioner DH Mehta said that while they had approached the court after the World Cup, the matter pertained to addressing the larger water scarcity matter, which the court agreed with.
Mehta said the move to provide water via RWITC was only done following Sharad Pawar’s interference. There is a club in Mumbai as well as in Pune. The HC, meanwhile, said it had no doubt in former BCCI chief and former union agriculture minister’s (Sharad Pawar who is the present Mumbai Cricket Association chief) ability to get things done.
Passing the buck
Pointing how the state government and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation were busy shifting the burden on one another while replying to the court’s query on where the tankers sourced their water from, Mehta said the water which was being used for maintenance of IPL pitches could be used for livestock purposes in accordance to the priority spelt out in the state water policy. Dada, while showing the sample, said the water was not useful for any purpose and was otherwise released into the sea.
Acting Advocate General Rohit Deo,meanwhile, pointed out that as per the preliminary enquiry done by BMC on the source of water, non-potable water from wells was supplied by tankers which could not be used for drinking. “You should draw samples of such water and send it to an accredited laboratory to ascertain whether this is potable or non-potable water,” said Justice Kanade, asking for a report on this.
“We are asking for a report so that in case of an emergency, this non-potable water can be treated and used,” added the judge. Deo said it was not only concerned with IPL but had taken the entire matter very seriously adding that no permission was sought from the government to hold IPL matches in the state.